Ratatouille has a problem. Pixar has become too good at what they do. The animation in their latest is simply jaw-dropping, and it’s impossible to concentrate on the story at times. It’s not a flaw, but a constant distraction from the wonderful, quirky world Brad Bird has created, his best since Iron Giant.
The simple tale of a boy and his rat that Ratatouille tells is consistently engaging. There’s something to the mix of human and rodent that blends to create this cohesive story that makes it impossible to look away. The sly humor, nicely handled pacing, and clever ideas craft this CG animated piece.
Ratatouille relies more on charm than direct humor. Like everything else here, it’s about the animation and how incredibly well done it appears on screen. The facial expressions bring these characters to life and tell this story like no other animation studio could. Remy, voiced by Patton Oswalt, becomes another human character even though he’s a rodent.
The cuteness factor is off the charts here, impressive given many people’s disdain for the creatures. Bird still manages to pull some emotion out of this one, including an intensely atmospheric visit by Remy and his father to a shop owned by an exterminator.
Even as the film carries its lighthearted tone, it doesn’t fall into a pit of clichés, and fully acknowledges that rats are not to (and should not) be welcomed in a kitchen. The staff of the Paris restaurant where the film is set walks out on Linguini, the up-and-coming star chef, when they learn his secret is Remy.
Fun and lighthearted throughout, Ratatouille ranks amongst the best Pixar has to offer. Its artistic brilliance, carefree plot, and intriguing characters add together to form a near masterpiece. It’s as beautiful as it is entertaining.
As with every Pixar release to date (regardless of the format), Ratatouille is a showcase disc. The movie’s world is stunning, and every piece of fur on every rat is visible. Clarity is remarkable, and every frame carries with it a depth that makes the image pop off the screen. Black levels are solid, and the immense amount of color is simply jaw-dropping. Like Cars, this is a Blu-ray disc you can justify your purchase with.
There’s a surprising amount of activity in this one, and the uncompressed 5.1 mix delivers. Bass is powerful when called on, and movement is detected in the rear channels. Crowded kitchen scenes could use some added activity in the surrounds, though an early sequence involving a rough ride through a sewer proves the film’s worth in sound design.
Fine Food and Film, a 13-minute piece on how a renowned chef and Brad Bird think alike when it comes to their creative process begins the extra features. Two short films, one related to Ratatouille, and other a priceless Pixar original called Lifted, are included.
Animation briefings discuss key scenes. There are 13 of them, running for 13 and a half minutes. Ten documentary shorts combine into a nearly feature length piece that last for 51 minutes. These cover 2-D and 3-D animation, character designs, inspirations, and numerous other aspects of a CG film.
Nineteen minutes of deleted scenes cover a wide range of areas from the film, though there is no commentary to explain the reasoning for their lack of inclusion in the film. The Will is a three-minute piece on how music can change the mood of the scene, and the scene in question is then presented with its original music alongside the piece included in the film. Remembering Dan Lee is a three-minute retrospective on the character designer and animator for Pixar who was taken at an early age by cancer.
Gusteau’s Gourmet Game is an interactive game that presents a decent challenge as you need to prepare orders as they come in. Finally, most of these features are accessible via picture-in-picture along with the film with the Cine-explore feature. If you don’t want the movie interrupted, you can watch then just as easily through the main menu.